Cool runnings

Updated: 2011-12-16 07:48

(China Daily)

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Cool runnings

Yabuli Ski Resort in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province is the nation's top ski spot, and it serves as the primary training venue for national teams. [Provided to China Daily]

Chinese ski resorts can compete with some of the best slopes anywhere

China's nascent skiing industry has been building up in the past decade to experience its current boom. In 1996, there were fewer than 10,000 skiers and nine small-sized ski resorts across the country. At the end of last year, there were about 5 million skiers and 200 resorts, figures from the China Ski Association show.

Previously seen as an elite sport, skiing is now being embraced by people from all walks of life. The number of people skiing in China is expected to double between now and 2015. The industry output value will be nearly 4 billion yuan ($629 million, 469 million euros) at that time, industry research firm CIConsulting predicts.

The sport is also spreading from the north to locations further south, reaching out to more people. Although ski resorts here are still not as well-known as their established counterparts in Europe, skiers have found that these emerging destinations offer decent slopes with lower prices. They are also considered to be great places to meet other skiers.

Below are three of China's popular ski resorts.

1. Yabuli

The host for the Asian Winter Games in 1996, Yabuli Ski Resort is considered to be China's top ski spot, especially for experienced skiers. It also serves as the primary training venue for China's national teams.

The resort is on Yabuli Sun Mountain in Heilongjiang province in Northeast China. It is more than three hours' train ride from Harbin, the provincial capital.

The temperature can fall to - 20 C during the winter, ensuring enough snowfall in the region with an average of 1 meter of snow annually.

The ski resort is divided into competition and leisure sections, with the competition section restricted to professionals. Yabuli has more than 50 professional ski instructors on site since the majority of the local skiers are beginners.

Visitors will find the resort a natural wonder in itself as they ride the cables uphill and catch the breathtaking view of snow-clad forests.

Bars, restaurants and lodgings as well as rental facilities are available at the resort. Club Med Yabuli, touted as the first international premium snow resort in China, is also here.

The skiing season at Yabuli begins in mid-November and ends in March.

2. Aershan

Cool runnings


Located in the town of Aershan of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in northern China, Aershan serves as the second training center for China's national ski teams, just after Yabuli Ski Resort.

It is also a place to explore the vast grassland and unique folklore of the Inner Mongolian autonomous region.

The resort consists of two main sections: The Western Hill area for professional skiers and the Eastern Hill area for non-professionals. The Eastern Hill section of Aershan Ski Resort covers an area of about 5.5 square kilometers.

Since there are always more beginners than advanced-level skiers, Aershan Ski Resort has three beginner-level pistes, which have an average gradient of 6 degrees.

The resort offers more than just skiing - it is also a destination for hot spring lovers. Visitors can indulge themselves in the warmth of spring bestowed by Mother Nature right after they shake off the snow.

The skiing season at Aershan Ski Resort begins in mid-November and runs until April.

3. Huaibei

An hour's drive from Beijing, Huaibei is one of the most accessible ski destinations for urbanites in the capital. It also boasts an ideal combination of historical and natural attractions as the ancient Great Wall is located nearby.

The resort covers more than 30,000 square meters. Huaibei caters to skiers of all levels with its seven trails, among which four are for beginners, two for medium-level skiers and one for professionals. The trails total 4,600 meters in length.

Although weather conditions in Huaibei are not as favorable as those of the previous two resorts, an advanced snow making system ensures that meter-deep snow is available.

Apart from skiing, snowmobile rides, archery sessions and horse-drawn sleds are all available on site.

The resort has two cable car lines that provide a spectacular view of the venue, including the surrounding mountains and a section of the Great Wall.

Huaibei is open from late November to early March.

China Daily